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Articles from December 2020

PK-5 Students to Return to 100% Face-to-Face

PK-5 Students to Return to 100% Face-to-Face

This morning, the school board voted for PK-5 students who desire a building-based delivery model to return to 100% face-to-face starting on January 4, 2021. Below, we have outlined what this means for our students in the various delivery models and buildings. 

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Delivery Model After Winter Break

Delivery Model After Winter Break

Throughout winter break, Ames CSD staff will be monitoring our local conditions. If our conditions continue to improve, we could make a recommendation to return PK-5 face-to-face on January 4, 2021. While it is too early to make that decision, we wanted you to know that all options will be considered.

Our secondary students (6-12) will continue in Hybrid through the end of the semester with the hope of returning fully face-to-face at the start of the second semester. Regardless of the learning model that students are in, our 100% remote campus will continue to be an option for families. 

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Masked Hero: Tabitha Wu

Masked Hero: Tabitha Wu

Superpower: Stay calm and kind for my students in situations of stress

“I believe that EVERY child deserves the best we can give them. As they come through the doors or log on each day, students need to feel like they are our #1 priority.” There is no doubt that Tabitha Wu loves students and is passionate about teaching in the Ames Community School District. As a second-generation Ames High graduate, Wu is in her fourth year in the District and 7th overall teaching. 

When schools closed in the spring, Wu quickly realized that being able to interact with her students is what motivates her on a daily basis, often serving as a bucket-filler in ways when the work gets challenging. “I have really learned how much I rely on student relationships and interactions in my work.” With school back in session both in-person and remotely, Wu can now focus on each student to find the best ways to support them. 

During this challenging year, she has remained positive and focused her energy on getting to know each student. During the Hybrid delivery model, Wu has been able to give more 1-on-1 attention to each of her students when they are at school than has previously been possible. “This opportunity has allowed me to see how much these students need responsive and personalized instruction and interactions and how they thrive when they are given these things.” 

Wu loves watching students enter the building each day ready for a new challenge. “The students have really risen to the occasion and have blown me away with their ability to be flexible during this unpredictable time. They have had a positive attitude and it spreads to everyone around them, including myself.” But we know that the year has challenges for students, which is when Wu kicks in her superpower of being able to stay calm and kind for her students in situations of stress. “Students, especially right now, need the consistency and routines from their educators.  I do my very best each day to provide them with patience and understanding that they need to be successful.”

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Return to Hybrid / Calendar

Return to Hybrid Delivery Model on Wednesday, December 9

Today, the school board voted to transition to the Hybrid learning model for grades PK-12 starting on Wednesday, December 9. The Wednesday return allows teachers 3 full days to prepare to return to Hybrid instruction. 

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Free Meals for All Children at Ames Schools Through the 20-21 School Year

Free Meals

The Ames Community School District is pleased to offer a free breakfast and lunch each day to every child in our community through the end of the current school year.

Any child aged 1-18 is eligible to receive a school breakfast and lunch at Ames Middle School, Edwards Elementary, Fellows Elementary, Meeker Elementary, Mitchell Elementary, and Sawyer Elementary.  Grab and Go meals will be available for students that are in virtual learning and younger children at the above sites.  Free meals are available to students when they are on site each of these sites.   Breakfast and lunch are available for free for onsite learners at Ames High School, free snacks are available for onsite learners at Northwood Preschool, free breakfast and lunch is available for enrolled children at the Boys and Girls Club.

  • On Monday, December 7, Monday and Tuesday Meals will be available between 12:00 p.m. – 1:30 p.m. at Edwards, Fellows, Meeker, Mitchell, and Sawyer Elementary Schools and between 4:30 p.m. – 6:00 p.m. at Ames Middle School.
  • Starting Wednesday, December 9th, Ames families with students and young children can pick up free grab-and-go breakfast and lunch at between 1:00 p.m. – 2:00 p.m. Monday through Friday at Edwards, Fellows, Meeker, Mitchell, and Sawyer Elementary Schools. 
  • Pickup for free meals is available at Ames Middle School Monday through Friday from 4:30 p.m. – 6:00 p.m. 
  • Students and young children do not need to be present when parents and guardians pick up meals, and student IDs are not required. Families may pick up meals at the school closest to them.

We will also continue to serve weekend meals on Fridays. 

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DE Approval / Panorama Survey

DE Approved Application to Continue Online (w/ Updated Information)

This morning, the Iowa Department of Education (DE) officially approved our application to continue 100% online remote learning temporarily for all buildings in the District. You can read the letter here. Per the letter, we are approved for online remote learning from November 30, 2020, to December 14, 2020. 

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Delivery Model / Revised Guidance Indicators

Delivery Model After Thanksgiving Break

We will be submitting our application for approval from the Iowa Department of Education (DE) to continue 100% online remote learning for all buildings PK-12 after Thanksgiving break. The DE approves applications in two-week intervals, and if approved, the 100% online remote learning would continue for another two weeks through Friday, December 11. As you head into the Thanksgiving break, please plan to continue online learning on Monday, November 30. 

As a reminder, when a school building has been granted approval from the DE to move into remote learning, the ability for that school to participate in extracurricular activities is suspended for the duration of the period of remote learning. As a result, all practices, competitions, and in-person meetings of any sports, activity, or club will continue to be suspended through the period of remote learning. 

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Masked Hero: Andrea Lowe

Masked Hero: Andrea Lowe

Superpower: Generate weird and random teaching examples.

Understanding the how and why concepts work together, rather than just presenting facts and numbers, can create long-lasting learning for students. This is how Ames High Earth and Space Science teacher Andrea Lowe approaches the classroom. “I’m spending more time teaching the hows – how to use technology wisely and beneficially, how to complete certain actions or functions, how to find information when you don’t have immediate access to the teacher.”

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The Making of An All-Stater

Student singing for all-state audition

Acceptance into the Iowa All-State Music Festival is one of the most challenging goals for high school musicians to achieve. Each year, many Ames High students rise to the challenge as they embark on the journey to earn All-Stater status. The end goal is to make it to the Festival, a compilation of Iowa’s top high school band, orchestra, and chorus musicians. Yet, few make it. According to the Iowa High School Music Association, in 2019, 4,586 students auditioned, representing 286 of the state’s high schools. Out of that, 601 students were accepted into the All-State Chorus, 278 into the All-State Band, and 226 into the All-State Orchestra. At AHS, approximately 12 percent of the students in band, orchestra or chorus audition, and even fewer make it to the Festival.  

A tedious preparation process requires all musicians to practice both in and out of school, starting as early as summer. Optional clinics, workshops, and camps help musicians effectively learn their music for the late-October audition. On top of their rigorous rehearsal schedule, students are challenged to keep up with academic, athletic, and personal obligations. Why do they do it? The consistent answer is a passion for music.  

“Music has always been a big part of my life,” said senior clarinet player, Sofiya Palasyuk. 

This same sentiment was echoed by other AHS students auditioning, including Yunjae (Daniel) Lee, violin; Sofiya Palasyuk, clarinet; Cassidy Peterson, alto; Madelyn Timmermans, trumpet; and Adam Wolf, tenor. Together, they have a combined eight years of experience performing at the Festival. Performing in the Festival each year of high school, also known as a four-time All-Stater, is one of the highest honors. Lee hopes to make 2020 his fourth appearance in the All-State Orchestra.  

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Masked Hero: Suzy Nordhus

Masked Hero: Suzy Nordhus

Superpower: Shapeshifting teaching style

For much of the school year, Suzy Nordhus has taught preschool students both in the classroom and remotely. She knows the challenges of engaging up to 20 preschool students at a time through the computer. “I am quite the three-ring circus, sideshow act when I teach. I do nothing short of tap dance on the tables to keep students (or maybe just myself) engaged during remote learning. But I have thoroughly enjoyed getting to know these little people.” This is why they love her!

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